Agenda and draft minutes

Standards Committee - Monday, 19th July, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: the Council Chamber, Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN

Contact: Neil Carr  Democratic & Electoral Services Specialist


No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were submitted from Abdul Loyes.


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 365 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 8 March 2021.



The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 8 March 2021 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman, subject to the final paragraph in Minute 53 (Annual Report) being amended to read:


“Sally Gurney asked if there were any plans to recruit further Independent Persons. It was confirmed that the current number of Independent Persons was deemed to be sufficient. If a vacancy arose, there would be a public recruitment exercise which could be used to achieve a more diverse group of Independent Persons.”



Declaration of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.


There were no declarations of interest.


Public Question Time

To answer any public questions.


A period of 30 minutes will be allowed for members of the public to ask questions submitted under notice.


The Council welcomes questions from members of the public about the work of this Committee.


Subject to meeting certain timescales, questions can relate to general issues concerned with the work of the Committee or an item which is on the Agenda for this meeting.  For full details of the procedure for submitting questions please contact the Democratic Services Section on the numbers given below or go to


There were no public questions.


Member Question Time

To answer any Member questions.


There were no Member questions.


Parish / Town Council Question Time

To answer any questions from Parish / Town Councillors.


There were no Parish or Town Council questions.


Update on Member Code of Conduct pdf icon PDF 378 KB

To consider an update on the proposed revisions to the Member Code of Conduct, including issues raised at the Committee’s previous meeting on 8 March 2021.


The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 11 to 13, which considered issues highlighted at the previous meeting in relation to the Councillor Code of Conduct.


Andrew Moulton (Monitoring Officer) attended the meeting to present the report and answer Member questions.


The report stated that the Committee had recommended to Council the Local Government Association (LGA) Model Code of Conduct, subject to a number of amendments. This would be considered by the Council at its meeting on 22 July 2021.


The Committee had also highlighted a number of issues for further consideration, including:


·           the publication of Member names when breaches of the Councillor Code of Conduct are resolved informally;

·           the process for handling complaints made by a Town or Parish Clerk against a Councillor;

·           guidance on the timeframes for publishing different types of exempt or confidential information;

·           clarification on the definition of “co-opted member” in the Model Code vis-à-vis the proposed Social Media Guidance;

·           any implications relating to the declaration of interests in light of the number of Non-Executive Directors appointed by the Council.


In relation to breaches of the Code of Conduct that were resolved informally, the Constitution currently stated that “the Subject Member’s name will not be disclosed”. Andrew Moulton stated that he was keen to commission expert advice on this issue, including benchmarking on the process used by other Councils. Consequently, it was suggested that this issue be deferred to the October 2021 meeting of the Committee. It was confirmed that Imogen Shepherd-Dubey had also carried research into 20 other Councils. This research should be used to inform the report to the next meeting. It was also felt that feedback from the Committee’s public consultation exercise should be included in the discussions.


In relation to the process for handling complaints made by a Town or Parish Clerk against a Councillor, the report stated that the Committee for Standards in Public Life had recommended that complaints about the conduct of a Councillor towards a Clerk should be made by the Chair or by the Parish Council as a whole, rather than by the Clerk in all but exceptional circumstances. Andrew Moulton stated that the current informal process whereby he supported the Borough’s Town and Parish Clerks worked well and there was no demand for change.


Prue Bray referred to the report being submitted to Council on the proposed changes to the Councillor Code of Conduct. Prue stated that Paragraph 4.2 in the report (release of any paper which is marked, or could reasonably be assumed to be, confidential or exempt) should be removed to allow further consideration by the Committee before submission to Council.  


In relation to the definition of “co-opted member” in the Model Code of Conduct vis-à-vis the social media guidance, the note circulated to the Committee stated that the social media guidance applied to both Members and co-opted members. However, it would only apply to their conduct when they were acting “in that capacity”. Where a complaint was raised about a co-opted  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Update on Code of Conduct Complaints pdf icon PDF 361 KB

To consider an update on complaints under the Code of Conduct and any matters arising.


The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 15 to 20, which provided an update on progress relating to Councillor Code of Conduct complaints.


The report stated that, since the previous meeting of the Committee, on 8 March 2021, two new complaints had been received. In addition, four existing complaints had been progressed.


Andrew Moulton provided a progress report on each of the complaints (Appendix A to the report). Andrew referred to previous Member comments about the tardiness of complaint resolution. In order to deliver speedier resolution of cases capacity had been increased in the Borough Council’s legal team.


Andrew stated that one of the complaints had progressed to a Standards Committee Hearing Panel. It was hoped to arrange the hearing in August 2021.


Andrew also noted that the majority of complaints received were made by Members against other Members. Members felt that the overall volume of complaints was not great and that Members should be able to continue to make complaints as and when necessary.


It was suggested that the potential for additional capacity outside the legal team be investigated and that benchmarking be carried out on the time taken by other councils to deal with Code of Conduct complaints.




1)     the update report on Councillor Code of Conduct complaints be noted;


2)     a report be submitted to the October 2021 meeting on options for additional complaints handling capacity and benchmarking on the time taken by other councils to deal with Code of Conduct complaints.